How to Talk To Your Farmer

{Re-blogged from Health Coach Quinn}

I talk to a lot of people who are intimidated by farmer’s markets.  They feel like they don’t quite know what questions to ask, who to buy from and end up getting totally overwhelmed by the process.

First thing to note is: it’s up to you to get the conversation going.  

Most farmers are incredibly intelligent, have copious amounts of information about their crops and could talk ad nauseum about them…if you show a little interest.

They are so entrenched in what they do that they assume you know what they know.  Like, if someone asks about your job, you’re not going to immediately offer detailed information about how exactly you do what you do…  People need to ask for it.

Here is your simple guide to get the convo going with your local farmer.  Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question!

Farmers_Market__July__2010_027

The Basics

  • Do you use any pesticides or herbicides in your field? (just because a farm is not certified organic doesn’t mean they don’t follow organic standards.  It’s always best to just ask!)
  • What’s the freshest today?
  • What is the most ripe? (especially if you’re talking about fruit)
  • What items do you recommend?

A little more in-depth

  • When was this harvested? (harvested=picked)
  • How can I prepare this? (let them give you some ideas, they are happy to share!)
  • How should I store this? (Importanté!)
  • How much longer will this be in season? (that’s an advanced level question)

Your farmer is not some serious, socially inept weird-o.  They want to chat with you!  But they don’t want to assume that you know nothing, so it’s on you to engage them.  Also, a lot of people who choose to work on their own tend to be introverts.

Don’t be afraid to engage them in conversation about what they do and how they grow/raise their food.  Be interested, be curious, be whoever you are.

JP-FARMERS-popup

All people like to talk about themselves.  Feel free to ask questions like:

  • How long have you been farming?
  • What got you into it?
  • What is your favorite vegetable/fruit/cut of meat/dairy product that you have?

Of course if they are super busy you don’t want to barrage them with small talk.  But these are people who have dedicated their entire lives to this.

Farming isn’t a 9-5 “job”.  It’s a lifestyle, a labor or love, and the people who devote their lives to this are proud and passionate about what they do.

Any other questions you think are pertinent?  Please add to the list in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you!

Like This? You'll love our {Totally FREE}
Learn-to-Cook Program

The Rules of (Green) Thumb For Shopping at your Farmer’s Market

We get a lot of questions about what to eat during different times of the year and how to keep produce fresher for longer.

The answer to both of those things: Eat Seasonally.  

The easiest way to do that is to make a point of getting to your locals Farmer’s Market as often as possible so you can pick up the freshest produce and eat exactly as nature intended.

We know Farmer’s Markets can be overwhelming so we wanted to break it down and make the experience a little simpler.  Even if you aren’t getting to the farmers market these tips can apply to shopping at your local grocery store too.

Firstly, it’s important to go with some reusable shopping bags.  They make it easier to shlep your bounty and are good for the environment.

Next, put your brave face on because it’s really, really important to talk to your farmers.  Engage them, ask them questions, find out where your food came from!  

Quinn wrote and incredibly comprehensive guide HERE.  She gives you all the questions you can/should ask and tells you exactly how to engage your farmer in an easy, breezy convo.

Finally, here is what you should pick up…

  • 1 Leafy green: Because you should always, always have leafy greens in your diet.  The more the merrier/healthier.
  • 1 Veggie that seems to be abundant: You know, that thing that seems to be at every stand.  Get some!  Veggies that are in season always taste best and when something is abundant it is also very affordable.
  • 1 In-season fruit: Satisfy your sweet tooth with some seasonal fruits.  This time of year it’s all about apples pears or if you can find ‘em, persimmons and pawpaws.
  • 1 Frivolous item that you’ve never cooked with before: This is how you learn!  Be brave, be bold.  And then get to googling…
  • Raw Honey: This is nectar of the gods!  Raw honey has tons of medicinal properties.  Its like a low grade antobiotic so it’s amazing for immunity and will help you build up a tolerence to seasonal allergies in your area.
  • Pasture Raised Eggs: You haven’t eaten eggs until you’ve eaten pasture raised eggs.  They just taste better, richer and have way more flavor.  Crack these babies open and prepare to be amazed at the vibrance of the orange yolk.

looks-like-fall

If you’re in the North East, here’s what’s in season right now

  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Greens (Kale, Spinach, Collard Greens)
  • Onion
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Winter Squash (Butternut, Kabocha, Pumpkins…)

What are your favorite seasonal foods and recipes?  We want to know!  Tell us in the comments below!

Like This? You'll love our {Totally FREE}
Learn-to-Cook Program

Travel. Eat. Thrive.

Our friend Nathan Agin has been living out of a backpack for the last three years, has never been healthier, and is now launching the show Travel. Eat. Thrive.  We’re pretty impressed too and knew we had to share his story with the HCC community.

What’s it all about? Here’s the 40-second version…

HCC: You’ve been a nomad for 1000 days and counting… What sparked your decision to go on the road?

NA: It was May 2010. I had just come back to Los Angeles after a three-month acting gig in Seattle at the Intiman Theatre. Despite being in the best year of my career (stand-up, Super Bowl commercial, regional theatre), I discovered that, after 10 years, I wasn’t passionate about acting any more.

So it became a question: “what DO I want to do?” And then: “if I’m not tied to LA (because of acting), where would I like to go?” At first I just thought of moving to San Francisco (love that city!), but then I wondered if I could recreate my Seattle experience in other places, stopping in for three months at a time and getting comfortable.

As anyone who travels can attest, the bug bit hard and once I actually hit the road, I found myself wanting to visit more and more places. Nearly three years later, I still have a deep love for traveling, meeting new people, and encountering new ideas.

HCC: We love to ask people “what do you eat?!?” so tell us, what does a typical food day look like for you?

NA: As soon as I wake up, I go for a 1-2 large glasses of water with lemon (and honey/cayenne pepper if available) to rehydrate my body and to jumpstart my digestive organs.

After an hour of creative work, 20-30 minutes of exercise, and 30 minutes of meditation, I’ll fix myself a green smoothie: typically water, banana, spinach, celery or cucumber, ginger, and perhaps some frozen berries. Watch my “Green Smoothie in 3 Easy Steps” video here.

Lunch is a GIANT salad, with many or all of the following: spinach, kale, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, onion, bell peppers, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and avocado. For dressing: lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.

Dinner is typically lots of vegetables and herbs (such as zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, garlic, cauliflower, cilantro—either steamed or sautéed), and perhaps wild-caught salmon or free-range chicken. I also love sweet potatoes every now and then.

Snacks might be fresh fruit (apples, grapefruit), nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans), and nut butters (almond, cashew, or sunflower).

Learn more about the *exact* recipes I’ve used on the road in my cookbook, Nonstop Awesomeness in the Kitchen.

HCC: What does healthy mean to you?

NA: Being healthy and eating healthy is a very personal decision. Of course we all know that eating real food and exercising *is* healthy, but in terms of what specifically to eat (and proportions) and what exercise to do, NOBODY can tell me or you the “best” or “right” way—it’s absolutely about experimenting and listening to your body! Do what you enjoy, what feels right, and what delivers the results you want.

To me, being healthy means having an abundance of energy, being able to do physically what I want, having a positive mindset, and feeling focused, clear, and engaged with life!

HCC: What is the show Travel. Eat. Thrive. about? And how does it help people with cooking at home?

NA: The show is designed to share restaurants around the world serving nutritious and delicious food, and then—how you can make those same meals at home! We connect with someone locally—someone who wants to eat healthier—taking that person out to different restaurants, and then to have him or her decide what meal to recreate in the kitchen at home.

I’ve found that many people I’ve stayed with have often been fascinated with how to make a green smoothie or why a plate of vegetables tastes so good. As someone who was horrible in the kitchen, it’s been fun for me to discover how EASY making tasty and good-for-you food can be—and then sharing these recipes with others.

The vision is to bring this out to a wider audience all while still creating a personal connection. There are lots of ideas of how to engage and include the audience (something I think many current food and travel shows are missing)—from viewers directly contributing content to creating worldwide communities around food.

HCC: What is your best advice to people for how to stay healthy when they are traveling? 

NA: Usually when you’re on the road, it’s not about dramatically improving your health or training for a triathlon; you just want to focus on what will help you maintain, sustain, energize, and inspire.

I like to say that you need to remember to pack two things: Commitment and Flexibility. Commitment is your pledge to yourself in terms of what you do everyday to hit the four words above; these are more general terms, like exercise, meditation, nutrition, gratitude, etc. Flexibility refers to *how* you can practice your commitment—you might only be able to squeeze in 10 minutes of yoga (instead of your usual 90) or maybe you can find a couple pieces of fruit for breakfast instead of a green smoothie.

The fact is you are doing something—which is WAY better than nothing, and you’re keeping up your routine, rather than letting it all slide, feeling guilty, and depressed (which can add to the stress you might already be experiencing from being in a different place).

Do whatever you can to keep yourself grounded and connected to your regular way of life—these habits will absolutely help you feel more present and energized during your travels.

Quick Fire Time…

Favorite meal to eat? Salad – so many variations, and I feel great afterward.

Favorite meal to prepare? Broccoli, Avocado, Mango salad. Creamy, sweet, and delicious, and I love sharing this one!

Favorite restaurant? I have favorites in many cities—I always love hitting up Café Gratitude (in LA and the Bay Area)

Favorite city? Again, lots of faves. Hawaii ruined me on cities (why so much concrete?!), but I quite enjoy the PacNW trio: Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver (BC)

Favorite daily practice? Meditation. Hands down. Game-changer and life-saver. Haven’t missed a day in over 3 years, and don’t plan on missing one—ever.

Favorite farmer’s market? Sounding like a broken record: again, SO many to choose from; Santa Fe has a really great market surrounded by lots of arts and culture—can’t wait to re-visit that one!

***

If this kind of info is up your alley, we invite you to check out Nathan’s new show Travel. Eat. Thrive.—where he takes you to restaurants around the world serving nutritious and delicious food, and then shows you how you can make those same meals at home!

Visit www.traveleatthrive.com to learn more, get the free handout “24 Tips for Healthier Eating Out!”, and…

Enter to WIN a free meal for two at restaurants around the US (and Canada!)—check out the contest here: traveleatthrive.com/win-a-meal-for-two/

Like This? You'll love our {Totally FREE}
Learn-to-Cook Program

Resolutions: We’ll Tell You Ours If You Tell Us Yours

Oh hey, what’s up, 2013?  We have a good feeling about you… but let’s start this thing right with some legit, realistic resolutions.

Here’s the thing, every year people make impossible-to-keep New Year’s Resolutions.  The problem?  They come up with super vague, long term goals but leave out the whole actionable-steps part of the equation.  In other words, they have a “what” but leave out the “how”.  Rookie mistake :)

At HCC we are ALLL about the how.  Like, in our online cooking program, we don’t just tell you what to cook, we truly teach you how to cook.

Even though we both cook constantly we are always on the quest to learn more about food, make better meals and try new things.  So this year, we came up with a couple (just a couple!) little things that we want to accomplish in the kitchen.

Most of all, we want to hear from you!!!  What are YOUR New Year’s {Cooking} Resolutions?  What do you want to try?  What recipes have you been wanting to make?  What cooking goals do you have for yourself?

Please Share!!!

 

Like This? You'll love our {Totally FREE}
Learn-to-Cook Program

Coping with summer’s bounty of vegetables

We came across this great piece in the NYTimes and just had to share it with you.  It’s chock full of great information for how to keep that summer produce alive and well. We had some major lightbulb moments and know you will too

Keep reading, this is seriously good stuff.

Here’s a dirty little secret of summer…

 

 

 

 

 

 

What should be a beautiful and inspiring sight — your kitchen, overflowing with seasonal produce — is sometimes an intimidating tableau of anxiety. The knobbly piles and dirt-caked bunches are overwhelming. Already the peak-ripe multicolored peppers are developing soft spots; the chard is wilting and the race is on.

“People often feel overwhelmed in the kitchen, and when all this produce suddenly arrives, they panic,” said Ronna Welsh, a chef in Brooklyn who teaches workshops on, among other topics, produce management.

Vegetable anxiety can strike anyone at this time of year: C.S.A. subscribers, compulsive farm-stand stoppers and even vegetarians. “All this produce arrives with a deadline,” said Benjamin Elwood, a lawyer in St. Paul. “It’s like when a DVD comes from Netflix. You feel like you have to watch the movie ASAP in order to get your money’s worth, but the pressure makes you not want to watch it.”

Click to continue reading…

Like This? You'll love our {Totally FREE}
Learn-to-Cook Program